Advise on seeding Canarygrass,oats & clover pasture?

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Steve Wilson

Well-known member
May 29, 2008
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Mid Missouri
I have a neglected 10 acre pasture that I wish to reseed this spring in Reed Canarygrass and medium red clover. Last summer it had a lot of cheatgrass in it, but this fall there was quite a bit of fescue among the dead cheatgrass. Should also mention that last spring I sprayed it with Grazon and missed some areas. The misses were very evident in the late summer; the remaining iron weed strips looked like fence rows. Last fall, I disked a strip and seeded it with winter wheat and turnips, as a test to see if the Grazon residual had gone away yet. Yup, got a nice stand for the deer to munch on.

We are planning to move the cow herd onto the pasture as soon as they finish grazing the one they are in now. I know they won't touch the cheatgrass. One issue is how to deal with the cheatgrass. Waiting until it has sprouted and then spraying with Round Up probably isn't a good option, because it will delay replanting. I've read university publications that recommend disking deep enough to bury the cheatgrass seeds a minimum of 3 inches. They also tell you to graze, mow or cut for hay before it has formed seed heads. Though other sources say that will only cause it to send up shorter seed stalks. Most all inform that cheatgrass seeds will only persist in the soil for up to three years. Gonna have to beat this stuff down into submission, by persistant management it seems.

The other issue is the remaning strips and patches of weeds, caused by misses when I sprayed. I don't want to postpone replanting another year, while I deal with the rest of the weeds. I will kill the clover when I respray the misses later this spring. The plan is to use 2,4,D instead of Grazon for the weed clean up. That's OK, I can live with replanting those areas with clover again next August or September.

This is a rolling pasture; that's why I'm considering adding something like oats, to help control erosion, since canarygrass is so slow to establish. Does anyone have advise on the seeding rates for the canarygrass, oats and red clover? Or any other suggestions they can make? I can rent the county's Great Plains Solid Stand no till drill at $10 per acre, get a fertilizer buggy or use my 3 point hitch spreader. We also have a 24 foot flex tine harrow that I plan on using to smooth the field after disking and can use again to tickle the soil after seeding, if I don't drill the mixture.

This is to be a hay field, primarily. It is recommended that you graze it heavily, early, the planting year. To delay the haying time. Perhaps to allow the canarygrass more time to root better, send out shoots and become more established, though I'm not sure about that. Just a guess on my part.

Any advise or suggestions are most welcomed.

Thanks in advance,
Adding an oats nurse crop is a risk with new seeding. For rolling land I put in 1 to 1.25 bushels per acre. My neighbor puts on over 2 bushels but he does not get a hay stand in dry years.
Red clover is very vigorous in my area and will take over the first two years if you put on 4 to 5 pounds per acre. For heavy soil I would put on a pound of white plus 2 to 3 pounds of red plus 3 to 4 pounds of alfalfa.
You need 6 to 8 pounds of reed canary. I would go with 8.
It is best to keep cattle off reed canary the first year. If you want to go heavy on seed you couple take off a hay cutting... but a red clover and oats hay mix is a real bitch to dry. I would rather chop or swath graze it all (including volunteer grass) when the ground if firm.
We also plan on seeding some Canary/clover pasture. We've had trouble in the past with clover smothering out new grass seeding. We plan on Kura clover so we will still seed them together. Kura is hard to establish like Canary. We will spray Butyrac to control broadleaves. We will use a 2.5 bu. per acre cover crop of oats and take it off as silage early boot. Probably get more cuttings. It will be important to stay on task here as we need to reduce competition with the very fragile grass and clover seedlings. I doubt we graze it for at least two years. It is in a place where we can rotate cows out of floods later.

I think you should be very careful about draging post seeding to stay shallow. The ground needs to be very even to avoid covering seeds too deep.

The cheat is a real problem. If you can let it germinate and spray it with Roundup then no till you can avoid a lot of late germinating seeds caused by the tillage. Cheat comes up pretty early so this could help. Also, mowing it like a lawn shouldn't hurt the new seeding as much a it will allow light to the clover and Canary. I'd also be careful putting any clover out there at all. It is so easy to frost seed or interseed later, it might act as a weed to the grass.
We don't use straight Canarygrass anymore. I've been using Palaton Reeds Canarygrass. The cattle like it much better. I can get you some more info on it if you like.
I bought Cheifton; it was the last one bred by the man that developed Palaton earlier in his career. Supposed to have a bit more seedling vigor and a little quicker to establish than Palaton, which is one of its parents. Like its daddy, Cheifton doesn't contain any of the nasty alcaloids.

Have any of you tried no tilling it into pastures after you sprayed them with Round Up? I like the idea of not having to disk the ground. Less erosion and I can probably get the field drilled earlier than waiting for it to get dry enough in the spring for a full cultivation.
Sounds like you know more about Canary grass than I do. When was Cheifton developed? Did this man breed any other grasses??
The following quote is from Seed Research of Oregon's website. They own the production rights to Chiefton.

"Chiefton is a high yielding, low alkaloid cultivar developed by the late Dr. Robert Kalton of Land O' Lakes Research. Dr. Kalton was a renowned forage grass breeder and developed such other popular canarygrass varieties as Venture and Palaton. Chiefton represents his most improved cultivar and is a top performing variety on the market today. Chiefton has no tryptomine and carboline alkaloids and will not cause digestive upsets."

I wasn't able to turn up any more information about Dr. Kaltron or Land O' Lakes Research.